My mother was the finest example of someone who was dedicated to people. She worked tirelessly and without complaint. She did not care about people’s circumstances, she treated everyone with love. Helping her family and other people was part of the norm. I remember her saying, “Charity starts at home, then it spreads abroad”. This statement I have found to be true. How can you give service to people if you do not service your family first? I believe she passed the baton of service to me. Since 2013, I have been actively involved in CASA Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties. I am a proud advocate. I have always loved children and wanted to do more to improve their lives. Children teach me so much; they are my life’s passion. In addition to being an advocate, I work with the developmentally disabled. Since I have worked with people with disabilities I have discovered that I just don’t have a passion for children, but I have a passion for people. People no matter of race, creed or origin shape us in some way or another. I feel I have only just begun and, truth is, I have. I believe I have an even greater responsibility and opportunity to share my love and compassion, than my mother did. She was and still is my part of the reason I do what I do. This is the reason why I love CASA and all that they do because they are a constant reminder that taking care of family and community goes hand-in-hand. Being a CASA Advocate is like being part of a family. They remind me of my mother and her tireless dedication to her family and community. My journey as an advocate is far from finished and it’s comforting to know that I’m part of a community of advocates that believe that family is the cornerstone that’s holds things together.
Written By Athenae Evans, CASA of CGS advocate
I cannot recall the exact time or the exact moment that I decided to become an advocate. I can say what I’m doing now as an advocate is what I have always wanted to do. I always wanted to be of service to people, especially children. I grew up in a not-so-traditional large family. I was born into a family with seven sisters and four brothers. My mother met my father, who had five daughters and three sons, and my mother had a daughter and son. She and my father later had my sister and me. That’s a lot of siblings that had many children. I have many nieces and nephews who were much older than me growing up. Just imagine being called Aunty and the person is 10 to 15 years older; imagine someone introducing you as their aunt and you are around the same age.
Looking back, I believe my mother has always been my standard to look up to. She is indeed my hero. One of the things that I admire about my mother was her sense of family and commitment to her surrounding community. I watched my mother provide service to our small church, but she also provided service to our family and its members. We belonged to a small community church that was right next to my grandparent’s farmhouse and my mother would clean that small church. On Sundays, she would make sure the Pastor had water behind the pulpit and in the winter she would make sure the furnace was lit to provide heat to our small congregation. My mother would work hard all day and come home to stop by my grandparents’ house. She would prepare dinner, hand wash laundry and provide care to her brother who was blind and deaf. My mother always made sure her children and grandchildren had plenty of food in their homes. This woman would glean in area farmer’s fields and not only make sure her family had something, but made sure her friends who were sick or had very little income, just like our family, would have food also. I remember a church member whose husband was always beating on her, my mom would visit her, mostly after church on Sundays. She would visit and we would be there for hours. I believe my mom was giving her comfort and bringing a little love and peace into her home. As a young girl I never wanted to go to this lady’s house, but now I understand what my mother was doing.